The Original Comfy is a mix of a blanket and an oversized sweater. As the product advertises, it is made for comfort and warmth. It was founded by brothers Michael and Brian Speciale and they got a deal with Barbara Corcoran. As of 2023, The Original Comfy is worth an estimated $50 million.
Michael and Brian Speciale
Michael and Brian Speciale are single fathers living in Phoenix, Arizona. Brian has a degree in broadcast management from Arizona State University. In 1993, he worked as a video editor at the KSAZ television station and later became an executive sports producer at KPHO.
In 1997, he decided to become a freelance showrunner and worked at companies such as CBS, ESPN, and NBC. After this, he became a host and anchor at KTAR FM, KION, and Tier One Media. In 2008, he started his own production firm, Blowtorch Media.
From Divorce to Invention
When Michael was going through a divorce, his brother let him stay in his house. There, he noticed Brian’s son, Saxon, getting very comfortable with a big sweater. Michael happened to see a fleece blanket nearby, and this sparked the idea for the product.
He told Brian about it, and the two started working on an oversized and reversible sweatshirt for adults, which can also serve as a blanket. The Original Comfy launched in 2017 and it was essentially a better version of the Snuggie.
The founders claim the Comfy’s design is much better. The Snuggie is like a blanket with arms while the Comfy is an oversized hoodie version.
Appearing on Shark Tank
Less than six months after starting the business, Michael and Brian appeared on season nine of the show, asking for $50,000 in return for 20% equity. By this time, the business had no sales, a finished product, or a website.
The brothers made a very lively presentation, singing their own version of a holiday song. It entertained the Sharks and really grabbed their attention. Despite the lack of sales, the pitch was brilliant and they gave honest answers.
Lori Greiner thought the invention wasn’t unique enough. On other hand, Robert Herjavec and Barbara Corcoran wanted to give the entrepreneurs a shot. Robert wanted 50% which was too greedy and Barbara won with an offer of $50,000 for 30%. Barbara rarely invests but when she does, she takes a hands-on approach with marketing and sourcing.
The Rise and Fall After Shark Tank
The Original Comfy ran out of stock the day after their episode aired on Shark Tank. They focused on production to keep up with demand and were able to generate massive sales thanks to the virality of the product. Five weeks after airing, the founders revealed they did $5 million in sales.
They took their product online as advised by the Sharks and is available on Amazon and TheComfy.com. It can also be purchased at retailers such as Costco, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Paper Store, and Zappos.
The Original Comfy is currently ranked in the top ten most successful Shark Tank products due to their sales. The company doesn’t report its annual revenue, but its lifetime sales have hit $550 million as of October 2023. The Comfy is worth an estimated $50 million and Barbara stated in an interview that it was her best investment by far.
Despite their amazing sales, the company hit a rough patch in the Summer of 2021. They went close to going out of business because of poor financial decisions and supply chain problems. Michael Speciale gave a candid interview to Forbes and revealed Barbara and his brother Brian are no longer involved. He bought them both out for an undisclosed sum. Michael stated that Barbara refused to help when they really needed her.